But the apparent failure of the Delta III upper stage in yesterday evening's Orion satellite mishap will add greater concern, since that stage as well flew with RL-10 variants.
While it was too soon to know if the Delta III second stage's early shutdown would doom the Hughes-made telecom craft, its malfunction clouds the future of the new launcher.
Its maiden flight last August 26th ended with a midair explosion shortly after takeoff, caused by a problem with the rocket's steering system.
While the system was revalidated for Tuesday's return to flight, the less-than-successful second flight will increase pressure on Delta III customers, especially Hughes, to look elsewhere for medium heavy lift.
If the Delta III is grounded for any substantial length of time, look for Boeing's Sea Launch to possibly take up some of the slack.
Of course, the irony is that it was the Delta III failure that destroyed Galaxy 11 that led to the Sea Launch flying its first mission with no payload - a mockup of Galaxy 11 only, since Hughes wanted to validate the ocean launch concept before risking another of its birds on a new launch vehicle.
As of May 5th, the 38th anniversary of Alan Shepard's 15 minute ride on the small suborbital Redstone, a Thor precursor (which in turn was a precursor to the Delta itself), the whole of the U.S. space fleet save the Taurus, Pegasus XL, and Delta II are Earthbound.
The last year of the 20th century is turning out to be a cold shower for the booming commercial space field.
But launchers come back from troubles. Consider the maiden launch from Cape Canaveral of a new rocket on May 13, 1960. That new rocket, carrying a NASA payload, blew up on its way to space. It's name? Delta. Some 39 years later, the Delta II has the best current record for launch safety. Stay tuned.
EELV Reports From Spacer.Com